Lifestyle * Travel * Food

Jan 31, 2016

HOT! Get An Iced Tea Maker For Under $20

I have been making my own iced tea at home for as long as I can remember. Living in the south, it's referred to as 'sweet tea', and you may likely get cut if you call it iced like I do. I have a Mr. Coffee Iced Tea Maker that was actually handed down to me a long time ago and it is seeing its last days. The pitcher has cracked and started to leak. Although I can easily order a new pitcher on Amazon, I was lucky to find a brand new unit for only $8.00 more. Check out this great deal for the Mr. Coffee 2-Quart Iced Tea Maker, Blue. It's under $20 and if you have Prime, you can get free two-day shipping.

I am thrilled that I can replace my old machine and also ordered a replacement pitcher as well (Mr. Coffee TP1-1 2-Quart Replacement Pitcher for TM1, TM1P) . If you are looking for an easy way to make iced/sweet tea, you have to get this! It makes a great gift as well. You can't beat the price and I'm excited about my gift to myself. Mine will arrive on Tuesday **insert the heart-eyed emoji here** This is the BEST way to make sweet tea, so go get one for yourself too!
*This post contains affiliate links 
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Jan 27, 2016

Pull Off Polished On a Budget

Whether it’s for an interview or a romantic date, polishing up your look only means good things. From makeup overhauls to new duds, posture practice to new accessories, implementing small changes can make a big difference.

Perfect Your Posture
You probably don’t realize just how much your posture affects your overall appearance. Slouching can bow your shoulders, causing you to look unkempt, shorter, and heavier. Poor posture can lead to various health consequences including back pain, so it’s in your best interest to work on perfecting your stance. Take a moment and consider your posture right now. Probably not the best, right? We all do it. Bending over at our desks, craning our necks down at our screen, slouching into the couch. Without making a conscious effort, it’s easy for us to fall into bad posture habits.

How to Improve It
There’s easy ways to better your posture, but they may not be what you expect. Contrary to popular belief, keeping your spine completely straight does not contribute to better posture. The best posture is brought about by maintaining two curves: the concave curve from your upper back to the base of your spine and the concave curve from base of your head to your shoulders. Keep your body weight balanced on the balls of your feet, and pretend your head and spine are being held up by a string from the ceiling, and remain aware of this throughout the day. Create alarms on your phone that will remind you to straighten your posture at hourly intervals if you find it hard to stick to.

Revamp Your Makeup Routine
Another easy way to polish your appearance is to overhaul your everyday makeup routine. If you’re using the same products and techniques you’ve been using for 10 years, it’s time to switch it up.

Switch Up Your Foundation
You want your foundation to look flawless without appearing cakey. Use a foundation that can create a matte finish and control your oil production throughout the day; my personal favorite is the Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation.

A New Lip
The nude lip is out, color is in. Especially in these cold winter months, don’t be afraid to try some deeper hues. Try a deep berry color or a rich red—don’t be afraid of the color. If you do go loud with your lip, keep your eyes natural looking, with just a swipe of mascara so as to avoid the clown look.

Try a Different Liner
Instead of sticking with the same old boring brown that you first tried when you were thirteen, incorporate some exciting hues into your eyeliner. Depending on your eye color, there are various options that can really make those irises pop. Try out copper if your peepers are hazel, use grey to make blue eyes stand out, and stick to light purple for brown eyes.

Relieve Your Stress
Do you want to know the one thing that doesn’t look good on anyone? Stress. Excess stress forces your body to produce a variety of hormones including cortisol, which results in more oil production and subsequently more skin problems, including acne. From under eye circles to puffy skin, stress wreaks havoc on our physical appearance to be sure, but it can also be deadly. From obesity to heart issues, you have every reason in the world to better manage your stress levels. Get more sleep, exercise, receive regular massages, and talk to a professional if your stress feels unmanageable.

Update Your Accessories
Don’t forget to give your accessories a facelift. Update your jewelry collection with understated pieces that you can wear daily to dress up any casual wear. I have a personal affinity for jewelry with a personal touch; these necklaces can be customized with your initial and go with anything and everything. Update what you carry with you as well, even down to your electronics. Grab a modern iPhone case and stay prompt with a classic Daniel Wellington watch. Remember that every detail contributes to the bigger picture.

Focus on the Details
Looking polished is about paying attention to the tiny details. Maintaining your manicure and pedicure do more than you know, and you don’t need to head to the nail salon to have your fingers and toes looking their best. Use a high-quality nail polish brand like Essie to avoid chipping, and don’t skip the base and top coats. The extra couple of swipes will be worth the wear you get out of your polish. Another detail that makes a difference? Your eyebrows. Threading may hurt, but it does look oh so good once finished.

Looking polished is a matter of paying attention to the details you might have shirked before. Incorporate these little changes into your daily routine and get that “pulled together” look we all seek.

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Jan 25, 2016

Simple Ways to Let a Friend Know You Care

Whether your loved one is going through a hard time or you’ve just been feeling a rush of gratitude for their presence in your life, letting them know you care takes just a pinch of thoughtfulness and a moment of effort. You never know the difference it might make, so peruse these options and let your friend know how much they are appreciated.

A Surprise Delivery
Order a bouquet of flowers for delivery to their home or office and write a sweet note to accompany it. You can make it as general as “Hope this brightens your day” or personalize it for a particular situation. A vibrant surprise such as this is sure to bring a smile to their face and remind them of your love every time they see it.

A Kind Letter
With social media saturating our daily lives, it’s easy to “like” our friends’ photos and status updates and call it a day. But if you’re truly feeling like reaching out to a friend and making sure they know you care, consider putting your feelings into writing. That’s right, writing a good old-fashion, pen to paper letter. Just a few paragraphs outlining how grateful you are for their friendship might be the pick me up they need if they’re having a rough go of things.

Take Them Out for Lunch
The work week can drag for all of us, so if you want to let your friend know you care, stop by in the middle of the week at their office and take them out to lunch at a local place. Breaking up the monotony of a long day and the added bonus of surprise will make your friend feel appreciated and give you two a chance to hang out even in the midst of a hectic week.

Actively Listen
If your friend needs to express something, make sure you do your due diligence and listen actively. Too often we hear, but we don’t really take in the message. Your friend might be hiding feelings between the lines and hoping that you’ll pick up on it, so do your best to repeat the words that are spoken to you and analyze the information given to better respond. It may sound like common sense, but many of us fall out of the habit of active listening. Being conscious of this will heighten your communication skills with everyone in your life.

Put the Phone Down
You might feel connected with the outside world while missing out on the person sitting right in front of you. Nothing beats in-person interaction, and constantly looking at the blue light of your iPhone screen just tells the person you’re with that they’re not interesting enough to capture your attention. Put your phone away and give them your full attention; you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much better your communication is.

Show Up With a Meal
If you notice a friend is struggling to get everything done and could really use a break, doing something as simple as bringing dinner over could change their entire outlook for the week. If you’re not a chef extraordinaire there’s no harm in picking up something from their favorite restaurant or having it delivered—it’s the thought that counts, not the food. This is an especially good idea for moms and dads who might be running themselves ragged with responsibility.

Send an Inspirational Book
We don’t always have the right words for someone going through a difficult time, so don’t be hesitant to reach out with the wise words of someone else. If you find an applicable book of inspiration that fits the situation, pass it along. You don’t have to let them know it was a gift specifically bought for them, and you can work under the pretense that it’s been in your library all along. Sometimes it’s hard for people to accept gifts, so if this fits your situation, definitely take it into consideration.

Wine and Chat
Another easy option? A wine night. Grab a personalized wine bottle from a company like Etching Expressions with a picture of the two of you or a cheery message guaranteed to make them smile. Even after you finish its contents, they’ll keep the bottle as a memento of your fun night together and it may bring light to their life on a rainy day in the future. Nothing sparks conversation like a little liquid courage, so give them the chance to express themselves without pressuring them. Simply letting them know you are willing to listen can speak volumes.

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Jan 21, 2016

Celebrating Your Girlfriends on Gal-entine’s Day

Haven’t heard of Gal-entine’s Day, yet? It’s high time you started observing this wonderful celebration of female friendship. Originally coined by Amy Poehler’s character Leslie Knope on the hit NBC show “Parks and Recreation”, this occasion is celebrated on February 13th, the day before Valentine’s Day. It’s meant to commemorate the beautiful bond and love between best friends, and if you’ve got a great crew of gals you adore, you need to celebrate your friendships and give a nod to the many different but just as wonderful types of love in your life.

Gifting isn’t Just for Lovers
Give your best gal pals a token of your appreciation for their friendship with some sweet and sentimental presents this Gal-entine’s Day. Skip the stale presents and make your besties feel like queens with some heartfelt presents you know they’ll adore. Whether it’s friendship bracelets (those aren’t just for preteens you know!) or tickets to a show you know all of you will enjoy, sweet little presents will definitely have your besties feeling the love.

A Fun Project
Want to keep busy while you’re hanging out? Provide all the supplies for a fun DIY project. Whether it’s making a dream board of all the hopes and wishes you all have for the future using pictures and terms cut out of a magazine, or a wonderfully scented homemade shower scrub, you’ll laugh over your arts and crafts project and leave the evening with a fun memento of the fun times you had that evening.

Paint ’N Wine Night
If you haven’t done a paint and wine night yet, you’re missing out. There are tons of companies in every big city that offer evenings where you and your girlfriends can get firsthand instruction from an artist and create a copycat painting masterpiece, all while sipping on alcoholic beverages and eating yummy appetizers. You’ll all go home at the end of the night with a new painting to hang on your wall, and every time you see it hanging on your wall in the future you’ll smile and think of the amazing women in your life.

Karaoke Night
What better way to spend an evening celebrating love than singing your heart out to some ballads with your besties? Head to a local karaoke bar and pick your favorite jams, sing some duets, and rock out to girl groups for a celebration that will have you losing your voice (all in good fun, of course!)

Television Binging
What is a night in front of the television without some delicious snacks? Order in food and have it delivered from a company like DoorDash, or do it smorgasbord style with a yummy charcuterie and cheese board, mini sliders, and chocolate berries from a company like Shari’s Berries. Celebrate women by picking movies with female leads: think Katniss from “Hunger Games” or the funny, singing gals from “Pitch Perfect”.

For Far Away Besties
If your best friend lives far away but you still want to let her know you’re thinking of her, send a fun card that will provide a happy surprise come February 13th  when she checks her mailbox. Plan a Skype date to catch up and get all the details on any Valentine’s plans you two might be celebrating with the lucky fellas in your lives.

A Girl’s Trip
If you and your friends are all single for the Valentine’s holiday, then you’ve got the entire weekend to work with for your Gal-entine’s celebrations (no wallowing about not being a relationship necessary, ladies). Go out on a sweet getaway weekend that will have you all feeling rejuvenated come the following Monday. What about a wine tasting weekend with a side of luxury spa treatments? Or perhaps you’ll head out on a ski weekend to make the most of the snow still clinging to the ground as winter winds its way down. Whatever it is that you like to do, plan a last-minute trip and celebrate with the girls who know you best.

Romantic relationships can come and go, but your best friends are always there for you, so make sure you celebrate all the types of love in your life this February.
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The Dos and Don'ts of Coats and Car Seats

With winter weather in full effect, I wanted to pass along some great information about keeping your little ones cozy and safe when traveling in the car.

These tips are provided by: Allana Pinkerton, Global Safety Advocate for Diono

BIG DON'T: Never place a child in a car seat with a thick, bulky winter coat because the harness might not be snug enough to perform as it should during a crash.

WHY? If they are wearing a thick coat, the padding in the coat will not allow you to snug up the harness correctly and the harness will actually be loose on the child.  The padding in the coat will compress during a crash until it gets to the body which doesn't allow the child to ride the crash down appropriately.

Important to note: Car seat manufacturers cannot determine if it is safe to use a thick winter coat because they do not crash test with coats on the test dummies. They do test for misuse and they can determine if a loose harness causes injury.

DO: Follow the car seat manual for proper harness fit, installation and use. The manuals are written based on crash test data.

DO: Use an appropriate car seat no matter what the weather conditions are outside.

DO: If there are no safety issues in doing so, heat up the car ahead of time.

DO: Put a thin fleece jacket on your baby, toddler or older child.

DO: Put a toboggan hat and gloves on your child. This definitely helps retain some internal warmth.

DO: For a newborn baby, many infant carrier car seats come with a "warming boot" to put over the baby. If not, one may be purchased from the manufacturer of the car seat or they may have approved the use of one manufactured by another company.

DO: Throw a blanket around your child when carrying them out to the car to keep them warm. (If you are super nice, you might have even warmed it up in the dryer first.)

DO: Place them in the harness and snug it up. Then you can place the blanket over them so it doesn't interfere with the harness and tuck it in around the child's sides. To avoid the possibility of suffocation do not put the blanket near their head.


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Jan 20, 2016

3-Ingredient Buffalo Chicken Empanadas Recipe For Game Day

Today's post is sponsored by Naturally Fresh. All opinions are my own as always. 

It's football season and the big Game Day is approaching. This means you have a little time left to start getting your Game Day menu ready or plan on what you will take to a party you may attend. Of course you must have an abundance of savory finger foods on hand. One of my new favorites are my Buffalo Chicken Empanadas. The best part is you only need a handful of ingredients to make them.  These can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator if you need to. They can be heated up in the oven or microwave. They are so easy to make, taste SO good and really are a crowd-pleaser. 


Ingredients:
1 small pack of boneless, skinless chicken thighs 
1 box of refrigerated pie crust
Buffalo wing sauce 
1 egg 
Seasonings of your choice
Naturally Fresh Bleu Cheese Dressing for dipping 


Directions: 
Lightly season your chicken (if you choose to) and place in slow cooker on high setting and let cook for 2 hours or until tender. Shred and lightly chop chicken since it will be a filling. Big chunks will not work. Cut pie crust with a glass or cookie cutter that is about 3 1/2- 4 inches in diameter. Place a little bit of the shredded chicken in the middle of each pie crust round and drizzle with Buffalo sauce. Be careful not to add too much sauce to avoid spillover or a soggy crust. Fold circle in half and use a fork to press edges to seal. Beat one egg with a little bit of water and brush empanadas to give them a nice sheen and brown color when baked. 

I recommend using parchment paper for baking to make removal easier. Bake at 400 degrees (or lower according to your oven) for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with Naturally Fresh Bleu Cheese Dressing and enjoy! 

Isn't that flaky crust gorgeous? 
Look at all that delicious Buffalo chicken filling!
Why Naturally Fresh Bleu Cheese Dressing? It is the perfect dip for these zesty empanadas. Naturally Fresh makes their yummy dressings with their very own buttermilk and aged bleu cheese chunks. You can really taste the difference! I can't get enough of those glorious cheese chunks. They also use real herbs and spices like basil, black pepper, spicy ginger and tangy mustard seeds in many of their sweet and savory dressings and dips. Naturally Fresh does not use:
  • Artificial thickeners to make up texture that should come from real ingredients.
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG), an artificial flavor enhancer.
  • Artificial preservatives. That’s why you’ll only find Naturally Fresh products in the refrigerated section.
  • Artificial colors or flavors

Naturally Fresh dips and dressings can be found in the refrigerated section of your produce department. You can use this store locator to find a nearby retailer that carries them. I have found these dressings at my local Publix and Kroger stores. You simply can't beat high-quality, homemade-tasting salad dressings and dips with no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. Be sure to "like" Naturally Fresh on Facebook for recipe ideas and more. 



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Get Through Winter With ChapStick® Products (Giveaway)

Unless you live in South Florida or the Tropics, you are probably getting hit with some chilly temperatures. After having such a mild end of 2015, Mother Nature has unleashed her bone-chilling wrath. This means one of the things most of us experience-- dry lips. You know what? Dry lips are not sexy at all. No worries, the ChapStick® family of lip care products are here to save the day and your lips


ChapStick® has been a household name since I can remember. They are actually over 100 years old. Over the years, there have been many additions to the Classic line. Of course those Classics are perfect for every day wear and come in Original, Strawberry, Cherry and Spearmint. You can count on your lips feeling smooth and moisturized.

Provide your lips with a little extra TLC using ChapStick® Medicated. Whether you are feeling under the weather or just need that extra boost of hydration, ChapStick® Medicated quickly soothes and seals in moisture with a light, protective barrier to help heal dry, chapped lips.

Winter or summer, quench a thirsty pout and protect your lips with ChapStick® Moisturizers. Delivering an ultra hydrating formula, with ingredients, like Aloe and Vitamin, and fun lip-locking flavors, like Green Apple, Vanilla Mint, Raspberry Crème and Original, say hello to delicious hydration for lips!

ChapStick® Sun Defense offers a conditioning formula, including sun protection with SPF 25, defending skin all year long. Winter, spring, summer and fall, ChapStick® Sun Defense prevents and temporarily protects chafed, chapped or cracked lips.

Aloha! Treat your lips to a refreshing and fruitful getaway with tropical inspired, fresh fruit flavors reminiscent of warm weather and an island breeze with ChapStick® Tropical Paradise Collection.  Mix it up with *Mango Sunrise or soak in Aloha Coconut.

*Aloha Coconut will be available exclusively at Walmart stores nationwide while Mango Sunrise will be available at mass retailers and drug stores nationwide.

Don't walk around with dry lips. ChapStick® products are just what you need to get you through the winter months. We keep these lip balms handy year 'round.
Check out all of the ChapStick® lip care products on their site and be sure to follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for product information and promotions.



Giveaway: One lucky Mom Files reader will win a ChapStick® Prize Pack filled with similar items you see below. Enter in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!



a Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only and will end on February 5, 2016. One winner will be chosen and contacted via email to claim prize. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Please follow rules in Rafflecopter. Good luck!

The ChapStick® product, information and gift have been provided by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare.. All opinions are 100% my own.
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Jan 12, 2016

Prepare For Cold & Flu Season With The Exergen Smart Glow TemporalScanner

With the holiday season behind us, many people are stocking up on all of the necessities to help battle against cold and flu season. The weather has taken a huge turn from the mild temperatures and we are feeling the deep chill of winter. We always have items like cold medicine, fever and headache reducers, assorted teas, and vitamin supplements on hand. The latest addition to our medicine cabinet is the Exergen Smart Glow TemporalScanner. This thermometer is unlike the old school digital ones that are sometimes tricky to use or provide inaccurate results.
The Smart Glow thermometer works by pressing a button and passing the top area over your child's (or your) forehead and boom, the temperature is revealed within seconds. The beeping sounds will indicate when it's done. Seriously, this would make any parent's life easier. You can even use it on your child while they are sleeping. Why didn't I have something like this when my kids were babies?
The display is illuminated, so this means you can check your child's temperature in any lighting. The days of making your kid sit still or hold a thermometer under their tongue is over! Let's not even go there with the rectal thermometers from the infant stages.  I love this even for myself. It's such a convenient and accurate way to monitor fevers. I've seen one similar in the doctor's office and was very impressed. I remember my reaction after seeing the temperature revealed so quickly being like, "Wait, that's it?!" Now I can feel like I have something comparable to what many nurses in doctor's offices are using. I'm telling you, once you have used this fabulous thermometer, you will never be able to go back to the old school ways. This says a lot coming from a very old-fashioned person like myself.

Some facts about the Exergen Smart Glow TemporalScanner:

The TemporalScanner™ comes with four ways to make it even easier to take a temperature:

· A softly illuminated display for easy reading in any light – perfect for checking the temperature of a sleeping infant in a darkened room

· Beeping sound indicating scanning can be turned off or on to avoid waking a sleeping child

· Automatically retains the last eight temperature readings for instant recall to check on fever progression

· Ability to switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius modes

Made in the United States, the Exergen Smart Glow TemporalScanner™ is the number one preferred thermometer by both nurses and pediatricians, and is backed by more than 55 clinical studies proving its accuracy.

It is sold at major retail stores including Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Costco, Babies “R” Us, Toys “R” Us, Kroger and BJ’s. The Smart Glow thermometer retails for $49.99. Trust me, it is well worth the money. This would make a great gift for expectant parents. As a matter of fact, if you are expecting a baby, you should add this on your gift registry.

If you'd like more information about the Exergen thermometer, check out their website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter for product tips and promotions. I wish you all well during this cold and flu season.

I received a product sample in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own as always.
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Jan 7, 2016

Kimchi Korean Cuisine in Columbia, SC Review

I was out a couple weeks ago with my husband and we stumbled across a new Korean food place in our area called Kimchi. I love, love, love all Asian cuisine so I knew it wouldn't be long before we headed over there to give it a try. This place is very cozy and you are immediately greeted as you walk in the door. The sweet lady who greeted us welcomed us and said, "come on, come eat". She was everything you would expect from a Korean mom or grandmother. So warm, sweet and ready to feed you. We previewed the menu beforehand so we already knew what we wanted to order. We had William with us and he went with the vegetable fried rice. Me and the hubby got the Bulgogi (Korean barbecue) which came with the most perfect sticky rice.


Of course you can't have an authentic Korean meal without all of those glorious vegetable side dishes (which comes with your meal). You get everything from kimchi, pickled daikon radish, coleslaw, bean sprouts and the most ridiculously delicious potato salad I have ever had. I wonder if I can order a pint of it? I'm serious, it's just that good. 


This was the lunch special and it was only $7.99! Oh and I promise, you will be stuffed! The food was so delicious and fresh. William's veggie fried rice (not pictured) was made with all fresh vegetables including tiny pieces of zucchini. He loved it and only got half way through his meal because he was getting very full. They have soft drinks and sweet tea for $1.50 and have a wide variety of delicious offerings on their menu. They have plenty of vegetarian and seafood dishes for those who don't eat meat. We plan to return again to try out some other items. Their prices at lunch run about $7.99 for an entree and you can even get a lunch or dinner box to go. Their dinner prices range from about $10-$30 depending on what you get since they have many specialty dishes.

Kimchi Korean Cuisine is located at 1807 Decker Blvd #6 in Columbia, SC near the Hyundai Oriental Market. Their phone number is 803-790-7778. You can place a take-out order.

This is NOT a sponsored post. I simply wanted to share the good experience I had in case you are local and looking for something new to try. Please consider sharing this post with a friend!

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